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Reflections Magazine : Issue 56 Spring 2014
12 Although the children who are still crawling are not ready to stand on the top, like some of our children love doing, they are able to crawl through the holes and explore their bodies in the space. Our indoor spaces reflect this vision of children through the materials which are on offer to them, such as scissors, glue, paint and the purposeful way they are set out in the room. For example, setting mirrors on a low table with a vase of flowers and paper and pencils, supports some children to explore still life drawings and others to experiment with the reflection of themselves and flowers in the mirrors. Essentially, we aim to create an environment which can be a third teacher for children (Strong-Wilson & Ellis 2007). Through these examples, there is a common thread of sustainably sourced materials and real tools which enrich the program and learning environments. The Journey of the Educator through the Planning Process Shared responsibility and vision is integral in the holistic nature of the room. In bringing together a new team recently, the Acacia Room embarked on a journey to come up with a shared vision for the room, based on concepts of what we wanted the room to look like, feel like and sound like for children, families, educators and the community. After bringing this together in the form of a chart, we distributed it to families to add comments, curious to collaborate with them around creating a shared vision and an intentional space for their children. Families fed back to educators on a range of concepts, wanting the room to maintain its aesthetic appeal, a focus on nature and outdoor play, the daily inclusion of messy play and a range of challenging experiences for their children. This form of "ongoing and deep reflection on practice" (Cherrington & Thornton, 2013:124) engages and empowers educators to take ownership over spaces and the learning occurring within them. Planning for infant-toddler programs required educators who had entered into the shared visioning process to come together and understand the pedagogical theory of natural environments and challenging experiences in order to put it into practice. This allowed all staff to value and appreciate this change and the possibilities of growth it presented to children. The planning cycle is seen as a continual process of change, where educators are set up with a mindset of constant reflection, evaluation and improvement. Educators are always thinking about individual children and whether they are being seen and responded to, and if the current documentation is meeting their needs. Educators in the Acacia Room were wondering how they could foster the growing understandings around feelings and emotions for the children within the room. By intentionally exploring this challenge, educators came up with the idea of facilitating an ongoing project to explore feelings with the children. Educators' acknowledgement of their own challenges, concerns and wonderings allows them to see themselves on an ongoing learning journey, just as children are. Educators in any setting have the potential to view the child as a holistic, capable individual and create a stimulating and challenging environment for them, regardless of age. References: Cherrington, S. & Thornton, K. (2013), 'Continuing professional development in early childhood education in New Zealand', Early Years: An International Research Journal, 33(2), 119-132. Gandini, L. (1998), 'Reggio Emilia: experiencing life in an infant-toddler center', Innovations in Early Education: The International Reggio Exchange, 6(1), 1-4. Rutherford, L .& Whitington, V. (2013), 'A comparison of segregated and integrated infant and toddler programs in one childcare centre', Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 38(2), 41-49. Strong-Wilson, T. & Ellis, J. (2007), 'Children and place: Reggio Emilia's environment as the third teacher', Theory into Practice, 46(1), 40-47.
Reflections Issue 57 Summer 2014
Reflections Magazine Issue 55 Winter 2014